Amateurism

“…each of us has an intuitive picture of the world and the way we ourselves were made for that world, an intuitive grasp of our place in things, which we can reestablish each morning and which can make us more available, more courageous, more generous.” —David Whyte

As I’m peddling along on a tandem bicycle, there’s a moment when I think that my friend is doing all the work of peddling. Of course, this silent query has simultaneously entered the mind of my peddling partner. The conversation becomes, “Hey, are you doing all the peddling?” “No, are you?” “No, not me.” “Well who is?” This is one of the elusive qualities of doing good work. There’s a conveyance, a flow when you are mindfully engaged with one another, whether it is part of your work, play or most notably, when it is both.

Our attempts and actions are the more significant artifacts that aggregate and shape our personal histories. Sometimes we honor only the outstanding accomplishments and forget that, at some moment they most likely began with someone, somewhere, taking action. Simple curiosity is the only permission we really need to be an agent of change. Activities in the form of amateurism help to dispel our apprehensions to move forward and engage. I believe that it is “an intuitive picture of the world” that provides the most promise. You could say that the Buddhist concept of “beginner’s mind” embraces this notion of amateurism to become action with humble curiosity.

For me, I only need to look as far as the bread making process to illustrate what I am attempting to explore above. The microbiological activities within the dough are the peddling partners in the enterprise of making a loaf of bread. After all, who is doing all the peddling? Amylase, protease, phytase, lactobacilli, yeast, they are but a few of the co-conspirators that come to mind. The bicycle-built-for-two metaphor encourages us to think relationally while taking the position of amateur and gives us permission to proceed without the concern for choosing an “either” or an “or.” There is no single way of doing something “correctly.” It’s nearly impossible to gather “all the data” to proceed with any single plan of action. All of “which can make us more available, more courageous, more generous.”

Bakewell Farm is looking for some courageous and generous “amateurs” to help us bake bread while building community. Please consider becoming a peddling partner and help us build the road as we travel.

Marc Jalbert, Founding Director of Bakewell Farm, a 501c3 non-profit whose mission is to apply “bread-centric” educational programs for building community while engaged in the practice of public service. Please visit us at: www.bakewellfarm.org